Flexible Work Schedule: Pros & Cons For Employers & Employees

Expert Tips
Denis Yankovsky October 15, 2021 17 min read

Working with a flexible work schedule is a growing trend for employers, especially given the employee demand. We highlight what a flex schedule is, share the pros and cons from both perspectives, and even answer some FAQs on flex schedules.

Flexible Work Schedule

Quick Guide

    The demand for a flexible work schedule has been growing significantly over the last decade.

    Even before COVID-19, surveys showed that 80% of employees wanted the opportunity to work from home at least some of the time.

    Half are even willing to take a pay cut in exchange.

    A flexible work schedule allows us to work at our peak when we’re most productive and gives us the ability to lead a healthy work-life balance. In fact, a flexible work schedule is becoming more common as more Millennials, and Generation Z employees are entering the workforce.

    In this blog, we dive into the various pros and cons, for employees and employers alike, of implementing a flexible work schedule.

    What Is A Flexible Schedule? 

    A flexible work schedule provides employees with an alternative to the standard 8 AM- 5 PM but still totals to a 40-hour workweek. In general, that means that there is no strict schedule that is the same for everyone, instead, employees get to choose shifts, or time-slots that fit them the most throughout the day (or night).

    “Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

    Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics

    Flexible work arrangements
    Courtesy of FlexJobs

    It’s obvious that a flex schedule allows employees to vary the times they begin and end their workday, as soon as they are still doing the same amount of work, and keep the same (or higher) productivity level.

    Manage Flexible Work Schedule Like A Pro

    What Types Of Flexible Schedules Are Available? 

    A flexible schedule is agreed on by the employee and employer, however, a full-time employee is required to work full-time hours or more. These are the options available for a flexible schedule: 

    Compressed Workweek 

    A compressed workweek is perhaps the most common flexible work schedule as it includes a four-day workweek with employees working four ten-hour days. This type of flexible schedule gives your team an additional day off so they can enjoy a work-life balance. 

    Typically a compressed workweek works best in office settings, however, if you plan right, it can fit any business like retail, restaurants, and so on.

    The benefits of flexible work schedules in terms of a compressed workweek lead to better work-life balance, better rest, less commuting, and more.

    Daily Flexible Schedule 

    Through a daily flexible schedule, employees have a couple of options at hand:

    • Start early and finish early
    • Start working later and stay on duty later
    • Take extra time during their lunch break which is later made up
    • Working during the night
    • Have flexible weekends, or fixed days on custom days, instead of standard weekend 

    A daily flexible schedule makes it possible to work 10AM to 3PM or 7AM to 4PM. This kind of flexible schedule differs from the standard hours and is decided on by the employee and the employer.

    Flex Time 

    With flex-time, the employer is not obsessed over what time you clock in. Instead, they want you to work the standard amount of hours you agreed on and get all your tasks done. Isn’t this just THE dream? Come to the office when you want and leave when you want! As long as the employee is responsible for his or her time and achieves their goals, that’s all the matters. So if they only spent 15 hours in the office and the rest was done from home, hey, more power to you!

    “In the right roles and with the right people, flex does offer tremendous productivity improvement. It gives people time to process properly, and it gets them out of the office in terms of being bogged down in day-to-day admin.”

    Osman Khan, Co-founder, and CEO of Paddle8

    Split Shift

    A split shift schedule means that you are splitting your hours throughout the day. For example, you may put four hours during the morning, two more mid-afternoon, and end your evening putting in your last two hours. Another variant is putting in four hours in the morning and then four hours at night. The split shift schedule simply means that your schedule for the day is split to allow for other life happenings in between.

    No doubt based on everything we have outlined above that flexible work schedules can result in an effective and efficient work process. With the growing changes in the workforce, you must stay ahead of the trends to ensure employee engagement and satisfaction.

    How To Make a Flexible Work Schedule Work for Your Business

    Incorporating a flex schedule isn’t that hard. But managing a flex schedule on a day-to-day basis, now that’s another matter.

    For instance:

    • How can you efficiently track all work hours your team is putting in if everyone starts and finishes work at a different time? 
    • How do you create a schedule for multiple employees and ensure there are no conflicts?
    • How can you make sure every employee has access to the most updated and relevant schedule and can request a change if needed?
    • How do you keep every manager updated with all the latest changes and provide them with a tool to make changes, approve or decline requests on the go?

    All of this may sound like a heavy load, especially if you try to do it all the “old school”, manual way. 

    Thankfully, technology has come far. It is the 21st century after all! With employee scheduling apps you and your employees have direct, real-time access to the schedule.

    Connecteam is the leading employee solution thanks to its robust scheduling features, for example:

    Manage schedules from your phone to desktop

    Duplicate or set recurring schedules, use drag & drop, or open shifts up for grabs

    Create recurring templates

    Get alerts if hours have exceed your predefined daily or weekly limitations

    Add info to each shift, like time, location, tasks, notes, attachments, etc.

    Get notified if employees accept ot reject a shift, check-in late, or complete a task

    Add or edit shifts, swap users, assign tasks, and more

    Schedule shifts in multiple ways (single, multiple, import, or templates)

    Better Scheduling For You & Your Team

    Sign up for a free 14-day trial, no CC required!

    If you’re still not convinced that you need a flex schedule, we dive into the pros and cons from an employer and employee perspective.

    Pros Of Flexible Work Schedules For Employers

    Improved Employee Engagement and Morale 

    Our first point of the benefits of flexible work schedules for employees is being able to achieve a healthy work-life balance. So, if your goal is to hire top professionals for your team then you need to offer a flexible schedule.

    Employees with a work-life balance are so much happier and fulfilled which leads to better employee engagement and morale. Plus, it also means they won’t bother to look for a new job somewhere else. 

    A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science found the following, “Being able to achieve work-life balance is an indicator to employees that they are being treated favorably by their bosses. This most commonly leads to reciprocating accordingly by showing a greater sense of commitment and productivity.”

    Easier Recruitment

    The Pew Research Center reported that millennials make up 35% of the workforce in the United States. And if there’s one thing we know about millennials, it’s that they want flexible work hours. So when it comes to recruitment, look at the statistics because it’s a no-brainer on what you need to do to appeal to the largest growing workforce. 

    FlexJobs also found that 84% of millennials want to be able to achieve a healthy work-life balance (which goes along with our first point above) and 67% said they want a flexible work schedule so they can be with their families.

    Therefore, including a flexible schedule gives you a much higher possibility to attract the current top talent – it’s no secret that today’s job market is highly competitive so you need to cater to the current workforce with the right incentives and benefits if you’re going to stay ahead of the competition.

    Reduced Employee Turnover

    A flexible work schedule might become a key element in your employee retention strategies, which can decrease employee turnover

    Business owners and managers are well aware of how expensive employee turnover is, so we won’t get into the numbers.

    However, what we will drive home is that when employees are engaged, happy, and satisfied then they aren’t looking for work elsewhere.

    turnover data without flexible scheduling

    Studies clearly show that workers with a flexible work schedule are more satisfied and happy than employers who don’t offer flexibility.

    Additionally, a flexible schedule offers employees a positive association with engagement which helps employers keep retention up – this shows a clear correlation between flexible schedules and employee happiness.

    Higher Productivity Levels

    When you have high employee happiness and job satisfaction then higher productivity is another trait that follows. All of which is due to offering a flexible work schedule. We pointed out already that flexible schedules also lead to less and a better work-life balance.

    Studies show much better productivity levels and increased morale when employees are offered a flexible work schedule.

    “Flexibility in working hours brings convenience to the individual’s life which reduces their work stress and improves their mental and physical stability due to which they work effectively and efficiently and with determination and coordination.” 

    International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management

    Modis found that when it comes to job perks, 50% of employees would choose schedule flexibility over an unlimited vacation or free childcare – now that says a lot.

    In addition, the Harvard Business Review reported 88% of employees would leave a high-paying job for one with less pay if flexible schedules were available.

    Fewer No-Shows or Late Clock-Ins 

    Employees with a flexible work schedule are able to easily plan their personal schedules around their shifts so clocking in on time happens naturally. In fact, this study shows that employees who have the opportunity to make alternative work schedules to suit their needs are more likely to clock in on time.

    With a flexible schedule and an accurate time-tracking app, you help dramatically lower no-shows and late clock-ins. 

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    Pros Of Flexible Work Schedules For Employees

    Healthy Work-life Balance

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20 million Americans preferred to work part-time over a full-time job. Why? That’s easy, a healthy work-life balance means everything. From family obligations to pursuing other passions to combating health issues or avoiding a long commute, the reasons are endless.

    “People today really value workplace flexibility and remote work because it allows them to focus their energies on work and life as opposed to commuting or other complications due to geography,” says Ken Matos, Vice President of Research, Life Meets Work

    Deloitte also reported that 16.8% of millennials chose their jobs because they can achieve work-life balance. Additionally, the report showed that when deciding where to work, flexibility was a top priority.

    Here’s what the American Journal of Industrial and Business Management had to say:

    Some researchers believe that lack of balance is an effect of conflict between work and life responsibilities. In their study on the support for the work-life balance, researchers found that emotional and instrumental support for employees during the work has a positive relationship with the work-life balance satisfaction.

    When your employees have more of a say in their working hours, it is much easier to establish a healthy work-life balance. 

    Saves Time & Money for Commute 

    With a flexible work schedule, employees can work remotely which means they can avoid traffic and other stressful events when commuting. Or, they can head to the office at 10AM and can totally avoid traffic altogether, it’s a much quicker drive when you’re not out on the road at the same time as everyone else!

    Sometimes a flexible work schedule resembles a 4/10 work schedule, and that’s something for you to consider.

    Plus, employees can save money on fuel and time lost while commuting. Sometimes, commuting more than an hour each way is common!

    More Opportunities To Grow

    When it comes to hiring and retention, companies have to offer employee development opportunities, especially as that’s what millennials and Generation Z are demanding. In fact, Gallup reported that “87% of millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job.”

    Gallup also reported that “opportunities to learn and grow as one of the top three factors in retaining millennials and the only aspect of retention that separates millennials’ needs from those of non-millennials.”

    This is where flexible scheduling plays a part.

    With flexible scheduling, your employees can attend professional courses or classes when they aren’t working so they can achieve their educational goals and achieve higher professional skills related to their job roles. 

    A trend to watch out for in 2022 is that a focus on employee happiness and showing appreciation is a must. In fact, 66% of employees reported that they would quit their job if they aren’t being appreciated by management. 

    Employee recognition, appreciation, incentives, communication, or whatever else you want to call it is crucial because it keeps your team from walking out the door. This means you lower the turnover rate and save serious money on onboarding and training new hires.

    Additonally, Gallup reported that companies in the United States lose $450 and $550 billion in lost productivity every single year. 

    Like we said, disgruntled, disengaged, and unsatisfied employees are far less productive, not as creative, and are more likely to leave. Your employee’s happiness can quite literally make or break your business. (You might want to consider bringing on an employee engagement manager for these challenges.)

    In the meantime, here are 26 easy and affordable employee incentives you can adopt immediately, on top of offering a flexible work schedule. You must offer a healthy balance of the two to ensure employee happiness across the board. 

    Lower Costs For Childcare 

    Compressed, daily, and flex work schedules all offer parents the opportunity to greatly lower the cost of childcare. If one parent can work from 6AM to 2PM, this means they can be there to pick the kids up from school and be with them until bedtime! All while then enjoying the rest of the evening as they choose.

    Whereas the other parent may work traditional hours so they start their day at 9AM. One parent is there for school drop-off while the other does pick-up. This balance offers parents the ease of managing two full-time jobs without the need for childcare.

    Flexible Working For Parents
    Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

    Healthier Well-being

    An inflexible work schedule causes stress and low morale, in fact, 68% of employees with inflexible work schedules reported an “unreasonable level of work stress.” Whereas those with a flexible schedule reported substantially less work-related stress levels.

    In addition, 59% of individuals with an inflexible schedule want to quit their job compared to 22% with a flexible work schedule. 

    The physical and mental health of your team is important to the bottom line, to the customers, to the turnover rate, and to their own sanity in their personal life.

    A flexible schedule leads to more happiness, productivity, and to much less work-related stress.

    Cons Of Flexible Work Schedules For Employees

    Employees who work best in an office environment can find it hard to work at their best when their coworkers don’t have the same work schedule. It may be complicated to plan for team meetings as coordinating around everyone’s flexible hours can cause a headache.

    However, most employers require their employees to work on certain days and at certain times to help avoid this nuisance. 

    Just be sure that you’re accounting for exempt and non-exempt employees.

    Not all job roles are suitable for flexible scheduling, like customer-facing positions (a receptionist). Therefore, these job roles require set, regular hours. For employees like this, they may resent their coworkers who have more freedom in their schedule.

    The line between work and home may become blurred. For example, if an employee finishes work at 2PM to pick their kids up from school then their boss won’t feel so guilty about calling them at 8PM for work matters. 

    If an employee works much earlier or later than their coworkers then they’re often in the office alone or almost alone. This can lead to liability issues because if an accident or hazard occurs, the employee has no one to turn to. 

    If an employee works from home some of the time, it can strain personal relationships. For example, your sister asks you to watch her kids because you’re working from home after all but you say no. Not everyone understands that working from home still means working.

    Cons Of Flexible Work Schedules For Employers

    Most managers are used to seeing their employees clock in, do their job, and clock out. This allows them oversight on what their employees do all day, however, a flexible work schedule relies on trust. Some managers may not have total trust in their employees which can cause negative relationships

    An employee may abuse the flexibility, especially if they can work from home. For example, they handle household tasks, watch TV, or take a nap. Some of their coworkers who work the regular 9-to-5 may think of them as slackers as they can’t see their productivity with their own eyes.

    Remember to incorporate meal and rest breaks in your flexible work schedule for compliance.

    Some customers may feel annoyed when a certain employee isn’t available. When you have a customer-centric job role then it may only allow for some flexible scheduling. Maybe working from home an entire day just isn’t possible.

    Plus, watch out for these latest HR trends to ensure you have all your bases covered.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Flex Schedules

    Is there data to support offering a flex schedule?

    Yes! There is a ton of data to support the benefits of flexible work schedules; from happier and more productive employees to a better bottom line.

    Do employees really want a flex schedule?

    The above numbers clearly show the many benefits of flexible work schedules, but what about the human aspect? 

    Do employees really want a flex schedule?

    Think about it. How many of us have missed important family events, meetings with friends, or even didn’t feel well, but carried on working until it was time to go home, just because the shift was scheduled in advance and there was no way to change it.

    Or maybe you weren’t even supposed to work that day, but had to show up because of a miscommunication with your colleagues

    Or just wished there was a chance to run some morning errands, at least sometimes? 

    Or wanted so desperately to go to the park or a fun activity with our kids in the afternoon, but saw the sun only from the worksite window instead?

    I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that many of us can relate to those scenarios above but with a strict work schedule, far too often is productivity hindered, as are our priorities. 

    Bottom Line On A Flexible Work Schedule

    It’s important that you weigh the pros and cons of providing a flexible work schedule, for both your employee and your business. 

    We’ve highlighted numerous benefits, from increased productivity to less turnover, and while there may be some disadvantages, with careful planning and an employee scheduling app, you can easily combat the cons mentioned, as soon as you have a simple, and effective employee management strategy, and flexible scheduling software.

    Create Your Work Schedule with Connecteam

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